Getting to know Death Party Playground

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Photo by Sadman Sakib Rahman

“A wild group of hellion velvet ravens influenced by a rising 1988 Bruce Willis and the innocent contractors who lost their lives working on the Death Star.”

That’s how a local band, Death Party Playground, is described on their website. It’s not a description you often see with an upcoming band — there’s no forced sophistication or hints of the band trying to be something they aren’t.

But it fits them perfectly, because Death Party Playground is band that understands they can’t take themselves too seriously. Not if they want to keep the brand that’s been distinguishing them from the other up-coming bands within the tri-city this past year.

Death Party Playground first emerged onto the music scene in 2012, but didn’t solidify their position until 2017 when they released their EP Bruce Willis’ Jog Playlist #3 in June.

The band consists of four members: Kyle Taylor on guitar and vocals, Dylan F. Bravener on bass and vocals, Sam Hill on drums/percussion and vocals, and last but never least, David “The Human Inferno” Bruneau on keyboard and guitar.

“It’s like Death Cab for Cutie … once you know the music the name works differently,” Taylor explained when I expressed the apprehension I had felt about going to see them preform.

Their band name is a bit more shocking than someone like me — a person who almost exclusively listens to bands like Dry the River or Whitehorse — is used to. But Taylor was spot on. While their name is macabre, it fits their music perfectly. Dark but still playful, sometimes even uplifting.

“We call our genre ‘story-time rock and roll’,” Hill said as he and Taylor tried to describe exactly where DPP — as I’ve begun colloquially calling them — fit in within the tri-city music scene.

“I started calling it theatre music, but story-time rock and roll sounds better. Theatre music, you know, there’s a flare for the dramatics,” Taylor said this could also be an apt description of their band.

Currently, the tri-city seems to have their music scene made. One large, dominating hard-core punk scene with blues and jazz sprinkled within different sections of the cities.

“I can do the solo-sets that I have, and they’re fun — a bit more personal, but it’s definitely better to play in a band. Because a song breathes on its own. I can write a song, but it becomes something more when people play it together, I really like experiencing that.”

“We didn’t necessarily fit in last night either, but that’s not a bad thing,” Taylor said, referring to a show they had played at Night School on Jan. 28.

“It’s not like what it was in the seventies or eighties. You can’t just bank on just being a huge, huge band. But with the internet and how information travels so fast you can definitely gather a following in certain places, enough to make some money at least,” Hill said.

“Seems to me that you can’t really make money anymore. If we get to a point where we fill a place like Starlight up, that amount of people, that seems pretty great and I’d be pretty satisfied with that,” Taylor said.

DPP also has released a single Hello, Sunshine, consisting of two songs “The Count” and “Bright New”.

“Some of the songs I’d already written before we made this band,” Taylor said, explaining how they all write their music.

“So I would show Sam the drum part, but he always just makes it better. Our keyboard player, it’s the same thing — he always adds better stuff then what I would’ve done. Dylan, our bass player, I don’t write any of his stuff. He’s always been with me, so he puts all his own stuff down.”

“Me, being the drummer, I bring a specific kind of style. It’s more than just rock, because I played in a jazz quartet for three years, so I bring other influences. But I never — ever, ever, ever — play the same fill twice in shows,” Hill said, explaining how he likes to keep his performances unique.

“It means — if you come to the show — if you come to two different shows and you come to listen to same song. It will not be the same drum part; it’ll be slightly different.”

There’s a prevalent theory in literature that once you write a story it’s no longer yours. It becomes this living, tangible thing that can become so much more than what you originally intended. DPP understand this aspect of art, this uncontrollable part, and they shape themselves around it.

“I can do the solo-sets that I have, and they’re fun — a bit more personal, but it’s definitely better to play in a band. Because a song breathes on its own. I can write a song, but it becomes something more when people play it together, I really like experiencing that,” Taylor explained.

You can see Death Party Playground live on March 22 when they play at Harmony Lunch. I know, it’s feels like a long time off. So, in the meantime try out what I’ve been doing; go onto their website (deathpartyplayground.bandcamp.com) and obsessively replay their music until it’s the only thing you know.

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